What to expect from ‘Cocaine Bear’ as movie opens in theaters

Don’t worry, no spoilers here.
What to expect from ‘Cocaine Bear’ as movie opens in theaters
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 4:20 PM EST
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The movie “Cocaine Bear” is now in theaters. The new horror-comedy, which is rated R, is about a black bear that stumbles upon a stash of drugs, then goes on a bloody killing spree. It is a highly-fictionalized account loosely based on fact, from a story that has its roots in the Bluegrass. This, the fourth of five related stories this week, reviews the film.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The main thing to know if you’re heading to the theater this weekend to watch “Cocaine Bear” is that the filmmakers take a “what-if” and run with it.


And far.

But that’s what makes it interesting.

In real life, the cocaine bear was found dead, likely having overdosed. There were no reported run-ins with drug dealers or hikers, let alone police officers, paramedics, park rangers, pre-teens or parents.

But what if?

Director Elizabeth Banks has previously said she “had a lot of empathy for the bear,” and described the movie as “the bear’s revenge story” inspired the real event of Andrew Thornton dropping bags of cocaine out of his airplane as it flew over Georgia.

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Don’t worry: Knowing the story behind the movie isn’t a spoiler, because it has little bearing on its plot.

The film does begin with a familiar face - a cocaine-sniffing, karate-chopping, duffel bag-tossing Andrew Thornton character is introduced in the movie’s opening moments - but references to the actual Bluegrass Conspiracy are few and far between, as might be expected given the title.

The movie does include some actual news footage, but beyond the beginning, the film largely blazes its own trail, making for what critics are calling one of the spring’s most original movies.

It follows an “oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens [who] converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.”

If it’s the bear’s revenge story, then, boy, does it get it.

Even if you go in expecting violence (and you should), you may still find the movie graphic at times - sometimes even shockingly so. The crowd in the theater during our advanced screening collectively groaned during at least one particularly gruesome scene.

The movie, thanks to a strikingly original script, is funny. As you might expect, it does make light of some serious subjects. But humorous lines, acting and situations are among the movie’s best qualities.

It made for a theater full of people who seemed to enjoy what can only be described as a wild ride of a film.

Overall, it makes for an entertaining watch - if you know what you’re getting into.

“Cocaine Bear” is rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout. Its runtime is 95 minutes.